Criminal Justice Reform – How Do We Tackle That?

Broken Criminal Justice System of the United States of America 

Cristal M Clark 

As we face racial bias at the hands of the police we must also face Judicial Reform along with Criminal Justice reform. Both our Judicial System and  Criminal Justice System in the United States happens to be two of the most broken, outdated and lopsided systems in the world. 

In terms of Criminal Justice, in the past few months I have worked with prosecutors and victims of crime and continue to hear about DA’s offering deferred sentences as if they are candy to the wealthy, affluent and the white. On the flip side should someone be black, brown or poor well they are not afforded the same opportunity as their white counterpart who committed similar crimes. 

That is completely inexcusable, disgraceful, disgusting and highlights how those that working in the Criminal Justice System, make a mockery of it. I am not sure how many of you advocate for the rights of those who were punished to fullest extent but that maybe did not deserve that, victims or family members of victims, but if you do are not sick of hearing defense lawyers argue that defendants due to status, education or race deserve more of an opportunity than someone less fortunate or who is black or brown?

When you look at reforming the Criminal Justice System, you also have to look at Judicial reform as a whole which is part political, and that is a much more difficult feat to actually accomplish but it can be done. 

We need to take away the ability to offer plea deals based off of race, social standing, class and sex. That needs to be taken away right away. Deferred sentencing should only be allowed for minor infractions, deferred sentencing should never be allowed or offered when an act of criminal violence has been committed. 

Deferred sentencing in recent years has widely been abused by prosecutors nationwide, leaving victims, revictimized, disrespected and unheard through the process. What is deeply more concerning is the rate at which a deferred sentence is offered to white, affluent males as opposed to black or hispanic males who commit like crimes. What that ends up doing to an offender, if they finish the deferred sentence and comply with everything, that record vanishes from a public records search. I don’t need to tell what that does to someone’s chances of being employed, who was not offered the same grace.

We as a society need to push for reform and change within that system, one of our best opportunities to do that is to vote, Judges are voted for not appointed. Do your homework on Judges in your city or municipality and get out and vote. Another crucial step is having each other’s backs. Seek out victim advocates in your community that don’t work for the DA’s office, most of us will offer our services for free which I know a lot of people do not know about. Your assigned victims advocate through the Criminal Justice System works for the prosecution, the prosecution cares only for a guilty plea, not you, not what you want or what you need much less actually seeking justice as per the guidelines of the law. Seems like that is too quickly forgotten once an offender is in the Criminal Justice System. And, we can push to defund cities, counties and municipalities when the courts in each continually fail at upholding the law and continue to make a mockery of our Criminal Justice System.

Those of us that go into courtrooms are a strong reminder and a powerful one of precisely where the system abuses and misuses its power, how deals are being offered that should not be and how Judges just preside and go along with things forgetting just what our Criminal Justice System is here for. Advocates like myself also fight for those that are facing having the book thrown at them when that simply is not warranted or those that have been abused by the very system they are facing for some type of criminal activity.  

We also need to address DA’s and prosecutors who both abuse and misuse their power to offer a deal. We the people, have the right and the power to remove any DA or prosecutor who has a history of giving too many deals to one class or race, who offer deals just to get a conviction, and who are handing out deferred sentences like candy. One of the worst acts of a DA is to give a deferred sentence to someone who commits an act of violence whether it is beating up a neighbor or an act of domestic violence. Too many times later down the road the offender ends up murdering or severely hurting someone else. Yet DA’s in recent years are handing out deferred sentences left and right. DA’s are here to represent the law and it’s victims, not themselves. 

We also have to start looking at every law written on the books, many are antiquated and outdated, they make no sense when one looks at the sentencing phase. Laws need to be overhauled and rewritten along with sentencing guidelines. 

How deals are handed out and offered need to be handled with strict, constructive and fair guidelines. As Reverend Al Sharpton put it, we need a Criminal Justice System that is a Criminal Justice System for all – not just one race, not just the white race or just black race. Taking that a step further we need a system that no longer offers better deals to the wealthy and affluent over those that are not. No more holding down people just because of race or social and financial class. 

Protesting gets the cause noticed but we also need to follow that through with action and a strong commitment to be heard, to have conversations with those we need to, to show up and not put up with injustice and racial bias through our Criminal Justice System and to offer our help in making the necessary and long overdue changes this country needs, most importantly we need to advocate for each other through the process when needed. 

Together we are the best chance of making change happen but we have to fight for each other here too without any bias whatsoever. 

It’s now a time for action across the board here, we’ve talked on the news and in the streets long enough, now it’s time to start sitting with leaders, prosecutors, attorneys and Judges and make change happen. 

Cristal M Clark

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So You Want to Defund The Police?

What Defunding the Police Looks Like 

Cristal M Clark 

I was at the market this AM, lots of folks out early and a lot of talk about what it would mean to defund the police. For the most part people understand what that means while some think it means shutting down police departments nationwide. There’s been a lot of talk around defunding, dismantling, abolishing, and reimagining what police forces look like. And with all of that talk, a lot of confusion about what each concept really means. 

Defunding the police simply means that funds would be diverted away from police and reinvesting the funds back into the community, mental health care and the like. 

I wrote about this at length a few  years ago, it’s a smart move but the trick is, doing it right. At the start of the statewide shutdowns, we had states not able to make it two hours into the shutdown without being bankrupt, so who can we trust to control reinvesting those funds and doing it properly? We need to be smart about talks surrounding defunding the police here, local and state governments more than proved in a very overwhelming way that they are not capable of being responsible when it comes to taxpayer dollars when we shut the nation down, now they are begging for a bailout from Trump. 

Not that they should not be getting a bailout but the reality here is who can we trust to handle this type of move properly? 

Does defunding mean less police on the streets? Most likely not, the reality here is that police these days are expected to do more than just police and in a lot of cases they are performing services they were never trained to handle. Police are performing homeless services, working with children in schools, responding to calls for mental health crises, performing social work and welfare checks, mediating non-violent domestic disputes,fighting terrorism abroad and responding to drug overdoses. 

So when we talk about defunding we must first find ways that communities can bring in outsiders to handle nonviolent situations, that means bringing social workers, community leaders who work with the homeless already, people who are medically trained to help with drug addiction issues and victims advocates who know and understand how to deescalate in domestic violence situations. 

People who are in favor of defunding the department argue that reform and laws don’t stop police from illegally killing citizens and others want to better train the police, some are calling for legal oversight of what police can and cannot do, with more training as a solution. But we have been down that road so many times before and has it really had an impact on police getting away with behaving badly? 

Here is the example: The police department in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed, instituted significant reforms and training programs based on President Obama’s task force on policing in response to the unrest in Ferguson, Mo. The police force required bias and de-escalation training and the use of body cameras. It tightened its use-of-force standards, diversified its leadership, and started collecting demographic data. Yet we find ourselves again, a black man was killed ruthlessly at the hands of a white cop who had multiple complaints filed against him previously for excessive use of force. 

We faced that question, and we failed at the reform and training thing. 

Camden, N.J. dismantled its entire police force in 2012 at that time they enjoyed a murder rate more than 6 times the national average and 175 open-air drug markets within the city’s nine square miles. 

You know what happened? 

Murder rates declined significantly, and by 2018, the city experienced its lowest rate since 1987, robberies, violent crimes, and property crimes also declined. 

After the police department was disbanded, chief of police J. Scott Thomson created the Camden County Police Department where he hired more officers with lower pay and placed an emphasis on community policing and that has been working. 

J. Scott Thomson: “For us to make the neighborhood look and feel the way everyone wanted it to, it wasn’t going to be achieved by having a police officer with a helmet and a shotgun standing on a corner. Officers identify more with being in the Peace Corps than being in the Special Forces.”

Almost all of the officers in the city now have GPS tracking and body cameras. There is an 18-page use-of-force policy, police are required to intervene when they see abuse of power, and the department has the authority to fire any officer who acts out of line. 

That is what protesters and communities are asking for, the government shoved the training and reform stuff down our throats and quite simply put it hasn’t worked, it’s time to try something new. 

Accomplishing that is much easier said than done, we can’t dismantle police departments nationwide, but we can change how they police turning them into more of a Peace Corps force rather than a large militant group. 

It is time to start funding community police programs and to rely less on Police nationwide to handle issues and problems they simply are not trained to handle, it’s time to demilitarize police and to train them better at being partners of the community and less at being bullies, untrustworthy, murderous and as if they are above and over us just because they were a uniform, have a badge and carry a gun. Just about anyone can do that these days. 

Cristal M Clark

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8 Minutes and 46 Seconds

George Floyd Did Not Die in Vain 

Cristal M Clark 

I don’t know how many of my readers have actually sat down and watched cell phone footage of the murder of George Floyd. I did watch it over the weekend and to be honest it has haunted me so deeply that I have been having trouble sleeping since then. I’ve studied my share of horrific murders and cold cases through the years and one moment during the murder of George Floyd affected me in a very profound way that I have yet to shake it.

It was George crying out for his mom as he lay dying and unable to breath. That cry brought me to tears, shaking me to the core, breaking both my heart and my soul. That cry was heard worldwide by moms, and unified in one stance together we stood and said enough is enough. In that moment we all unified and stood up as any mother would for George Floyd as if he were our own child. 

We want Justice for George. 

We demand Justice for George. 

I’ve been to some of the protests, both peaceful and as the anarchy ensued during the night trying to help keep the peace, but no peace was to be had over the weekend. I do not condone looting, damaging property, violence, but I heard what people felt. Many of them are feeling many different pains if you listen. 

But right now, the pain and suffering we need to address is the systemic racism here in the United States. Every single state in this country is standing unified together without the leader of the United States of American and we are demanding an end to the suffering and inequality of the African American’s who are citizens of our nation. 

Our nation which we are part of together. 

When my kids were little, they never knew racism, when I would watch them play with other little kids I noticed, just as I do with my grandchildren now, little kids, they don’t see race as they interact with other little kids. They are just happy, excited and delighted to meet new kids and to be able play with another little kid. They just see another little kid. 

Racism is taught, hatred is taught. 

It is time we stopped teaching children racism and hatred. 

President George W Bush stepped forward and like a President helps heal his hurting nation, gave a beautiful speech the other day that encouraged peaceful protests, that encouraged us to call for change.  

President Barack Obama yesterday, he did it again, like a President he stood to help lead a hurting nation, to heal and to demand change in constructive and peaceful ways. He urged us to be strong and to stand alongside the youth of this nation and to demand change.  

I refer to both as President rather than Former US President to illustrate that they truly were and still are thought of leaders of this nation, something they both demonstrated with the thoughtful words of hope and inspiration they have delivered through this senseless tragedy. 

Donald Trump, has made threats, hid in a bunker, rampaged on Twitter, called people weak, urged law enforcement to harm peaceful protesters and use a show of force to stop protests around the nation  and has yet to offer help, support, words of healing, promise for change, empathy and leadership here. The White House is currently being sealed off, barriers being put into place by a coward, racist Donald Trump and an administration living in fear of the people they are currently letting down.

I urge all American’s to remember these defining childish, pathetic behaviors and moments Donald Trump has shown in the face of a crisis when November rolls around. He may be great when it comes to business and economy, but he truly strives to simply drive our nation apart because he has no empathy whatsoever. That is just as inhumane as the killing of innocent people of color. 

And we the people are driving for change, we are forcing that to happen. All 50 states in this nation are demanding change, every race in this country is standing as we the people without a leader and we are demanding change. We are succeeding! Finally we are making it happen. 

Through the years I stood for change as blacks were killed at the hands of cops or a white men. I’ve written about it so many times in the past and here we are again. When the change doesn’t happen, I can’t help but feel like I have failed in some way to make it happen. 

When I attended a couple of the protests I heard the very words that I have written in the past spoken and cried out from the mouths of our nation’s youth who are demanding we end systemic racism once and for all and I couldn’t help but feel this is a deeply painful time for our nation and the world watching this unfold but in those moments I stood proud of the youth in this nation for having the courage to stand up and rise about the systemic racism we continue to see. 

We can no longer tolerate hate, we can no longer accept and allow injustice, we can no longer accept systemic racism. This is America and we must fight for equal justice for everyone in America, No more white justice, no more black justice, no rich justice, no more poor justice, one system for all of the peoples in America.

We must put an end to white privilege and inequality in our nation. 

When the leadership in the Whitehouse fails us, we the people must rise up to that challenge and drive the need for change in non-violent ways ourselves. The proof of that is today, look around we are heard and supported through state and local governments nationwide, we are being heard and supported worldwide. 

To the racists on social media dropping the word ni*g*r, sharing racially hateful messages, demanding white privilege, you are also being heard and the bad news is that people are quietly sharing your posts and words of hate towards blacks, hispanics and asians, support of the KKK, Neo Nazi’s, White Power, through private DM’s, people are sharing your hatred with the very people within your  own communities, some of you have businesses and I don’t believe that I need to explain what that can do to your business. What we are watching in the United States of America is that the minority groups are about to change, those that are racist and full of hate are going to become the minority sooner rather than later. 

It’s we the people not we the white power, we the people are no longer going to tolerate racism, hatred, inequality and injustice towards a person of color and we must let our voices continue to be heard.   

I cannot claim to know and understand the pain and suffering of people of color, but I am a mom and when I heard George Floyd cry out for his mom, it brought me to my knees. And although I cannot quite put into words what hearing a grown man being murdered, crying for mom truly feels like, any mother who watched that video would tell you, it was gut wrenching, painful and you can’t help but to feel it hit you hard in your heart and in your soul. It leaves you unable to walk away and not fight for change.

I have spent years fighting injustice through our judicial systems, fighting for the rights of victims and fighting a system that rewards the rich and the white. 

George Floyd’s death will not be in vain, he will be the first person I think of anytime I prepare to address a Judge or prosecutor, his cry for his mom will not be forgotten, I will think of George Floyd and that cry will make my arguments about inequality and injustice even more powerful. 

We must change, we must abolish systemic racism and inequality like our nation once abolished slavery.

Always remember 8 minutes and 46 seconds a human being suffered, struggling to breath and died an agonizing brutal death crying out for his mom all  because he was black and that never should have happened. 

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop on twitter

Donald Trump Fails the United States – Again

Leadership Not Part of the Donald Trump Playbook 

Cristal M Clark 

This morning in a teleconference with leaders across the US Trump attempted to bully his way through the call where the leaders truly needed support, understanding, empathy for their citizens and some understanding of the situation amid the protests sweeping now the entire world. 

The role of a President is to lead his or her nation in good times and bad, through a crisis whether it be a health crisis such as Covid-19, or protests. Obama never fled to a secret bunker when protesters took to the streets, no he got up and pleaded with a grieving nation to stop the violence, he led us, you know like a leader should do. 

Today, Trump had harsh, sometimes incoherent words for the leaders in states where protests turned violent over the weekend, calling them weak for not utilizing the National Guard. Trump’s absolute failure to understand how things work in real life is truly amazing to me. He seems to feel that states maintain order by using brute force, the very thing we are all against because it can potentially end up in more senseless deaths. 

Trump has failed to address the nation and vow to end police brutality, much less suggest that it is time for racism to stop.

Our nation is sick, grieving and angry. What’s more is that we again see just how divided we are.  When we needed real leadership over the weekend, in the White House our coward of a President hid in a bunker and the lights of the White House were turned off, like people do when they don’t want to hand out halloween candy. 

Well Donald, this is not Halloween. 

Trump’s Twitter feed has been it’s normal shit show of course. Trump has attacked Joe Biden, reporters, insulted leaders on the front lines of protests, and claimed federal authority he doesn’t have. He made a comment about “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” then claimed ignorance and the true meaning behind that statement. 

This is a man who has been sued for his racism well before he became president, he is a known sexist, bigot and racist. 

To be fair Trump initially condemned George Floyd’s killing, but since then there have been no statements intended to quell anger, bridge divisions, or heal the wounds that have been bleeding for decades. There have been no public appearances, either except that Trump traveled all the way to Florida to watch a SpaceX rocket launch on Saturday, but hasn’t quite managed to travel in front of cameras for a formal statement.

Leaders across the globe have been watching Trump’s failures this year, Covid-19, these protests and are referring to him as deranged and an idiot, and I have to say I couldn’t agree more. 

As all of this continues the worry from many is that Trump is going to make matters much, much worse. Trump is a loose cannon who lacks empathy, he is a disgrace who seems to like to see our nation so deeply divided through police brutality and racism. 

Police across the nation however are choosing to stand alongside protesters, marching with them, kneeling with them, supporting the movement which is highly commendable. Trump has urged both police and the national guard to harm protesters instead of attempting to bring the nation together, no because Donald Trump likes to see us divided, if you will recall one of his largest followings is gun toting racist scum. And he doesn’t want to lose those votes. 

Trump is our biggest challenge as we face this but this does give Biden a chance – it did appear after all that he stood no chance but if he can rise above through this and prove that he can lead a nation that is so deeply hurt and divided, Trump’s days are numbered as the President of the United States. 

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop on twitter

The United States Brace for More Protests and Unrest Across the Nation

George Floyd Protests Go From Peaceful to Violent 

Cristal M Clark 

After a Friday night that showed pure outrage at police brutality – erupting into rioting and unrest in cities across our country, authorities tried to reestablish order through an increased show of force. The Governors of 6 states, including Minnesota, where George Floyd was murdered in cold blood at the hands of a cop on Monday, called out national guard troops. Many cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Louisville, Columbia, Denver, Portland, Milwaukee and Columbus, imposed curfews in anticipation of a violent night ahead on Saturday. 

Here in Denver the vibe was good for most of the day yesterday, the protests were peaceful yet the city felt the same thing many of the rest of us felt, something bad was brewing, the moods were changing into unrest and the fear of violence caused city leaders to ask for the national guard to come and to put the city on a curfew which did little to curb the violence that followed a day of peaceful protests. 

The death of George Floyed is unfathomable, it’s 2020 why are we still falling witness to racism? Why are we still falling witness to the cold blooded murder of yet another black man at the hands of a cop? Let’s not forget however, not all cops are bad cops and good cops do in fact loath bad cops. Denver and all of Colorado has its share of some really good cops who if you ask them do not support police brutality in any form much less racist cops.  

Many are wondering why the violence after a day of peaceful protests, it’s simple really, people are angry, incredibly angry and full of rage. They don’t care about the business they looted or burnt down, many of those businesses are coming out of a 2 month shutdown where they had already lost so much. I do however understand the anger, the sheer hatred behind the acts of violence believe it or not. Everyone is suffering from the fall out of the virus, people are upset, you add that to yet another senseless killing of a black man and it equals disaster. 

This violence is happening across America from coast to coast and from big cities to small ones sadly. And it happened well beyond the major metropolitan areas, protesters clashed with police in cities including Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; Albany, New York; Fargo, North Dakota; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Many of the rest of us, well we are sick of the racism too, we are tired of seeing black men die at the hands of a bad cop. I read the police report, it  was absolute bullshit. An excuse filled report of utter and complete bullshit. The charges the prosecutor charged Derek Chauvin with should be released of the privilege of being a prosecutor immediately over the bullshit charge of 3rd degree murder a charge many have never seen or heard of before now. As for the Department of Justice heading up an investigation, no one has an ounce of faith in it’s head either, William Barr. 

I support the protests, not the violence but when you sit back and look at everyone involved in the Judicial process here, it’s easy for me to understand the outrage, the angst, the anger and the violence.


Will justice really be served here? Judging from the charges that were filed against the killer Derek Chauvin, no justice will not truly be served here. Let’s also not forget that Derek Chauvin will no doubt hire an attorney who is going to argue that his client will not get a fair trial. Well, from where I am sitting George Floyd did not get a fair trial either now did he? The actuality here is that Derek Chauvin would really be tried by a jury of his peers here but the prosecutor who filed the charges did everything so as to ensure an avoidance of a trial and will be offering up a sweet plea deal to Derek. Anyone charged with murder or any other crime has a multitude of charges filed at one time the DA uses that leverage so as to plea down into a lessor charge just for the sake of obtaining a guilty plea from the defendant and forgoing an actual trial. It’s a notch in the DA’s belt. It is not, and I repeat NOT, about justice at all. 

I have traveled the country and visited many courtrooms and offices of Judges and prosecutors protecting both the sanctity of our Judicial System and the rights of the innocent and victims. George Floyd appeared to be suffering a medical episode according to the officers own words, why the fuck would Derek have his knee firmly implanted on the throat of a man who appeared to be suffering from a medical condition? I have spent many years reminding those that work within the Judicial System of what their jobs truly are, the Judicial System was never designed to protect the wealthy, bad cops who kill innocent black men, to more severely punish the poor, to utilize the system to jail so many blacks,  while letting whites who are charged with similar offences off lightly, yet the system fails virtually at every turn it can now doesn’t it? 

The proof of that couldn’t be more clear with the charges against Derek Chauvin for the cold blooded murder of George Floyd. 

So yes, while I do not condone the acts of violence these are individuals who already see the outcome and they are angry, they are outraged, they are hurting. They want the world to hear the pain that they are feeling, they want all eyes on our beloved country so the world can finally see the true shitshow of our judicial system and just how it favors whites over blacks, the wealthy over the poor and completely turns a blind eye to the victims, the families of the victims, the system promises to stand up for them, yet it blatantly turns a blind eye to them. The Judicial System here in the United States is not about justice at all, it’s about numbers and the ability to obtain a guilty plea, nothing more or less. These individuals want the world to see the police brutality here in the US, they want to world to watch as our system yet again fails to seek justice and favors whites over blacks, cops that murder over the black life that was lost. 

I implore our President, William Barr and the entire Judicial System to start making changes, stop using the system to obtain a number or guilty plea, stop making a mockery of our Judicial System and start using it the way it was always meant to be used, start with the murder of George Floyd. Have enough pride to stand up and give George Floyd’s family and loved once the Justice they deserve for such a senseless murder. 

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

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